Saturday, 28 May 2011

Bruce Davidson Retrospective Somerset House 2011

Another photographer whose work I was more familiar with but couldn't put a name to the images. Wandering round the exhibition rooms I was delighted by the photographs which were sympathetically produced no matter what the subject. An American photographer born in 1933 he joined Magnum in 1956 becoming a full member in 1959. Famous early series are The Dwarf and Brooklyn Gang. Between 1961 and 1965 Davidson chronicled the American Civil Rights movement, for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1962 to support the project.

The exhibition at Somerset house, being a retrospective look at his social documentary work, featured images from across the board, The Dwarf, The Brooklyn Gang, Freedom Rides, Central Park and East 100th Street. Bruce Davidson won the Sony World Photography Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award 2011.Bruce Davidson - Outstanding Contribition to Photography - World Photography Organisation

The simple yet effective way in which he captured the huge tenement buildings in New York's East Harlem and the occupants is very evocative. Apparently some contemporary critics have accused Davidson of exploitation but how can photographs of children peering though cracked, grubby windows be considered exploitative yet Jim Golberg's Polaroids of human trafficking not? Davidson was at least exploring the suffering and misery on his own doorstep rather than seemingly pointing a finger of blame at third world countries unable to solve their problems. Or is that me being overly political ;o) Davidson is quoted as saying

"I view my work as a series, I often find myself as an outsider on the inside, discovering beauty and meaning in the most desperate of situations." 

Having just finished reading "Roll of Thunder Hear by Cry" by Mildred D Taylor I could really empathise with the Civil Rights Movement set. His images of the One-room School House in Selma Alabama 1965 and Annie Blackman in her sharecropper cabin holding her youngest child, Felicia. Selma, Alabama, 1965, could have been taken to illustrate the book although taken 30 years after the time period in which it was set, they show nothing changed for a long time.

Just my opinion but a brilliant photographer :oP

interesting video short : o)

Photo Booth: Video: Bruce Davidson on Street Photography : The New Yorker

Longer one..In the Photographer's Lounge: Bruce Davidson in conversation with Simon Baker

I think I'd quite like to own his book Bruce Davidson: Outside / Inside: Journey of Consciousness but at £158.00 I don't think I shall :o/ Anyone feeling generous?

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